Sunday, July 31, 2011


Can you believe there's an 80+ pound dog behind that tiny pinhead?

I've been in a slump the past week. Come to think of it, my whole household seems to be in a slump. Everything in my yard is dead. The dogs are lying around all day hardly moving. I'm way behind in the assignments for my photography class and can't seem to get a good photo these days - frustrating. Larry and I seem uninspired to make simple decisions such as What's for dinner? Bleh.

Time for some self-imposed art and/or exercise therapy. Maybe an ice cream cone. Some loud music. Or perhaps some indulgences in guilty pleasures...

P.S. If you've e-mailed/commented/convo'd me recently and I haven't responded, I'm SO sorry for being a jerkface. I really love and appreciate all your nice messages!

Friday, July 29, 2011

bread of the month | grilled naan

grilled naan
So, this whole Bread of the Month thing isn't exactly happening every month. So much for resolutions.

When I resolved to bake a loaf a month, I was imagining that I'd be baking actual loaves - the type of bread that could be sliced for sandwiches or just eaten with dinner. Oddly enough, what I've actually made is buns, rolls, and flatbreads. This month was no different.

July's bread was naan - which, if you've ever eaten it in an Indian restaurant, is delicious. I was making a recipe for Tandoori Chicken Sandwiches (which was also delicious, especially the mint mayonnaise - and this is coming from someone who hates mayonnaise and also hates mint in savory foods. At least I thought I did. This combo slathered on the sandwiches was fantastic.) and reviewers suggested serving the sandwiches on naan instead of the sourdough called for in the recipe.

So I made a recipe for Grilled Naan that I found on Food & Wine. Despite the fact that my naan were quite oddly shaped ("shape them into a teardrop"? I don't think so!), they were good and they worked well for the sandwiches. And they work well for scooping up hummus, tapenade, or any other dip you have lying around. But were they as good as Indian restaurant naan? Sorry, but no. I think making naan is better left to the professionals!
tandoori chicken sandwiches on grilled naan

Thursday, July 28, 2011

that's what he said . #4

what happens when I leave him alone with the iPad
This is what happened when he got ahold of my iPad. "Oooh, forward facing camera!"

Larry is extremely fair-skinned and burns easily. The other day as we were driving, we were passed by a convertible, top down, old geezer frolicking in the joy of the wind through his hair...

Larry: If I had a convertible, there'd be nothing left of me but a piece of ash on the seat!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

an evening at wolf trap

wolf trap
There's nothing quite like sitting outside swimming in your own ass sweat while sitting on a wooden folding seat listening to a summer concert. Of course when it's 100 degrees out, the fun part of sitting outside quickly diminishes. Despite this weekend's heat wave, however, we braved the hellish temps ("it's not the heat, it's the humidity!") for an evening at Wolf Trap on Saturday night.
wolf trap
Wolf Trap is "America's National Park for the Performing Arts." It's located in Vienna, Virginia and is a great venue - you can sit out on the the lawn and bring your own picnic meal (this isn't a tailgating beer-chugging kind of place - instead, people bring gourmet picnics and wine) and listen to music with your toes in the grass.

I've been going to Wolf Trap every summer since I was a small child to see my cousin in concert and listen to the music I grew up with. (Plus music from her new album, Hard Bargain.) It's a great family tradition and it's fun to see all the family while they're in town - even if it is only brief backstage visit after the show.

wolf trap

People often ask me if musical talent runs in the family. If it does, it didn't reach me. (Though I did make All-County Chorus in seventh grade. Does that count?)
wolf trap

I love listening to music though, and I've probably mentioned before that Larry is a lover of music. (It seems there should be a word for someone like this? Musicophile?) Anyway, Larry is like the wikipedia of music trivia.

We've seen some other great shows at Wolf Trap, too - last summer we saw Willie, and we're hoping to see Big Head Todd and the Monsters in September. We first saw BHTATM together at Red Rocks while vacationing in Colorado in 2005, so it's kind of a tradition of ours to see them in concert whenever they're playing nearby.
wolf trap

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

10 pm snack

ricotta fritters
Oh yeah, Ricotta Fritters. Fried and dusted drenched with powdered sugar.
ricotta fritters
These were my reward for spending the evening working on a home improvement project that we started a year ago. Spackling, sanding, painting, frying, stuffing face. (Still working on getting over my fear of frying...didn't even freak out too much when the oil temp spiked to 400 degrees and everything started sputtering and crackling.)

So delicious.

Monday, July 25, 2011

weekend adventures: sunflower fields

sunflowers at mckee-beshers
When I first heard about McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Seneca, Maryland, I couldn't believe that a massive field of sunflowers existed only 20 miles from my house. For some reason, I expect fields of sunflowers to be found in places like Indiana - not Montgomery County, Maryland.

My second thought was I have to get over there immediately with my camera! And for once, this wasn't something I found out about too late, after the sunflowers were dead. Evidently, the middle of July is the peak for sunflower blooms.
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
This place did not disappoint. As we walked around the corner, we gasped at the sight of thousands of sunflowers as far as you can see. Luckily, the sky and clouds were amazing that day, too.
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
You couldn't help but be amazed at the beauty of nature at a place like this. Unfortunately, there is a rather sinister reason that the sunflower fields exist. They are planted to attract doves - and later in the season the fields are opened up to dove hunters. So this extraordinary field of flowers is actually a killing field. There were even shotgun shells discarded between the rows of blooms. Poor doves. But I tried to ignore that aspect of the fields as I went a little crazy with my camera...
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
Photographer walking through the sunflower fields.

I wasn't the only one with the idea to photograph the sunflowers - there were lots of other photographers there - some with fancy set-ups and reflectors and other equipment I have no idea how to use. This was one of those places where it was impossible to take a bad picture, but difficult to take an excellent one - how to get a really unique shot of sunflowers?
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
facing the wrong way
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
sunflowers at mckee-beshers
Larry pretending to be a sunflower.

All in all, it was a beautiful sunny summer day and the sunflowers were definitely worth checking out.

To top it all off, we came home and cooked up one of the best meals we've made in a long time to enjoy on the patio: Pork Tenderloin with Tomato-Peach Compote, Zucchini-Ricotta Fritters, Carmelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread, and homemade Strawberry Gelato. Oh, and a few glasses of chilled Vouvray. (Can't forget the wine!)
me & mom
Me and Mom on the patio.
after dinner

Thursday, July 21, 2011

the return of supergirl

Last week I started taking an online photography class - Superhero Photo. I've been meaning to write about this and share some of the photos I've taken, but right now we're going to skip ahead a bit, because this post can't wait. I had more fun today than I have in ages.

This week's focus is on self-portraits and the assignment was to use the camera's timer to take photos of yourself "flying" onto the bed, Superhero-Style.

Now before I share anything else, a couple of back stories:

1. When I was 12, I broke my foot jumping on a trampoline. This happened mere weeks before the sixth grade pool party. I'm still bitter about that. (Though I did get an awesome glow-in-the-dark cast!)

2. When I was 21, I took a flying leap onto a bed in front of my college roommates. The bed went careening across the room and I missed smashing my face against the wall by inches. I was wearing a dress when I did this. After the leap, I looked back at my friends, grinning, and announced "I'm wearing red underwear!", to which they all replied "We know!" Oops. (I'm pretty sure it was a beer-fueled jump.) Anyway, from that point on, my ex-boyfriend called me Supergirl. Which, to be honest, is a pretty awesome and self-esteem boosting nickname (despite the fact that our relationship went up in flames a few years later).

I think that was the last time I jumped on a bed. However, when I saw this week's assignment, I knew it was perfect. It was time for the return of Supergirl.

A few other things to note: I had hip surgery a few years ago. Also, my joints are crap. This whole flying/jumping/launching-one's-body-across-the-room thing is better left to those with able bodies. Because seriously, I think I need crutches a wheelchair now. And also some vicodin.

So, here's the attempt at the superhero photo. This was extremely challenging. The shutter typically went off as I was crash landing. Evidently, gravity is more effective than my attempts at flying.
superhero, attempt #34
So I ditched the whole flying thing and decided it was more fun to jump on the bed. And let me tell you, that shit is tiring. And fun. Really fun. I'd say jumping on the bed when you're 32 is just as fun as jumping on the bed as when you're 4...except when you're 4 you don't end up with sore knees, a pinched sciatic nerve, a pulled groin, and whiplash.
Over an hour later, I had 350+ photos of myself jumping on the bed and I feared I would soon go into cardiac arrest. I was sweating buckets. I haven't gotten that much exercise in, well, years. And it felt great. By the end of it I could hardly walk, but I was addicted to trying one more time to get that perfect shot. I'd literally drag my wrecked bag of bones across the floor to set the camera up for one more go. Holy OW.
I died.
I died.

After I died a breather (and stuffing my face with a couple slices of chocolate zucchini bread - hey, I figured I deserved it since I had just burned 10,000 calories), I sat down to delete the outtakes - you know, the ones of my butt, the ones where I'm completely out of the frame, etc. Seriously, 99% of the photos looked like crap. Fortunately, I'm a big fan of taking unflattering photos of myself and then sharing them on the internet. As I was about to delete the rejects, I realized that the whole fun of this exercise was the process...not the outcome (though I did get a few awesome shots)!

So I decided to share all 350ish photos in a stop-motion video. Warts and all - here's Supergirl in action! I kept all the rejects in here - photos of my badonkadonk, unflattering expressions, just about everything - the only exception being the ones that show the color of my underwear!

I am Superhero. from Funnelcloud Rachel on Vimeo.

Seriously, that was SO fun! I need to do something like this every day.

yeah, gorilla dance!
Yeah, gorilla dance!

OMG. My hair. AND MY FACE!

shake your money maker
Shake your money-maker!

put on your game face and jump
And don't forget to put on your game face!

I highly suggest trying this exercise at home (and sharing the pictures with me!) And if you do, please heed the advice below:

Lessons Learned
1. Don't bother making your bed beforehand. It will be soon be trashed.
2. Don't bother brushing your hair beforehand. It, too, will soon be trashed. 
3. Wear deodorant.
I think I need a chiropractor.
I think I need a chiropractor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

dear brain, explain yourself...

Dreams I have had in the last month:
1. My house caught on fire and I was panicking and trying to rescue the dogs from the blaze.
2. I was in a skyscraper that was hit by a tornado. People were jumping off the roofs of neighboring buildings.
3. We got to our rental beach house and there was a deer and a grizzly bear inside. The owner of the house came and slaughtered the deer for dinner.
4. My mom was working at a health fair with Joey Lawrence.
(One of these is not like the others!)

WTF. How can the same brain that conjures up natural disasters in my sleep also insert teen stars from the 90s into my subconscious???

P.S. Whoa!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the art at luminhaus

One of the things that immediately struck me as soon as we entered Luminhaus was the art. Art was everywhere - big, bold, eye-catching pieces - it was like walking into a museum of modern art. I loved it. And I immediately felt ashamed of the unadorned, artless walls in my own home. It's amazing how much artwork can change a space. (Yes, I'm an artist, I know this...and yet, I can't seem to make a decision as to what should hang on my own empty walls! I have plenty of art in my home, it's just stacked up in my studio waiting to be shipped out to my Etsy customers.)

I wish I knew who the artists were for the pieces below. I'd love to give them credit (and maybe buy some of their pieces for my own blank walls!).

We spent a good portion of our evenings discussing this painting. What is it? What do you see? It was such a large piece that you couldn't help but stare at it. The fact that our modern art interpretations were fueled by wine made our discussions all the more interesting...
We both agreed that the shape at the bottom left was a watermelon. The yellow outline to the right looks like thighs wearing underwear to me. Larry also saw trains and I saw helicopters and architectural sections through buildings. What's above the watermelon? A bone? A barbell?

Edited to add: The painting above is by artist Brad Birchett. He describes it as "a stream of consciousness piece centered around bits and pieces, memories and simple abstract form (inspired by torsos and French train stations, etc.!)" Love it!

Another piece we discussed a lot:
Him: It's a lamp or a light.
Me: It's a pint of beer.
(As you can see, I eventually swayed him to agree with my interpretation!)

We couldn't agree on these:
Him: It's exploding skulls!
Me: It's ice cream cones! With sprinkles!
(Ahh, the differences between the male and female brain!)

Case Study Houses - these spoke to my love of pop art and architecture:

Music-inspired art in the kitchen:

I seriously LOVED these clay tiles that were hanging in the bathroom. I also loved how they were secured to the wall with exposed nails. I've always wanted to take a ceramics class so I could make clay tiles like these. I actually have some similar tiles on display in my own bathroom that my dear friend Sarah brought me back from New Zealand, but now I want more!

Another inspiring favorite from the bathroom. I've always wanted to learn encaustic painting and I'm now obsessed with it. This was one of my favorite pieces in the house.

One of the coolest things was a collection of miniature art. I totally want to start a collection like this of my own:

Hugs and kisses and dentures??? (The teeth had a pin on the back so you could wear it on your...lapel???)

Love these mini houses!

A silver cracker:

And don't you love discovering that other bloggers have been somewhere before you? The incredibly cool and creative Shauna and Stephen of Something's Hiding in Here were at Luminhaus last year and they left behind a little wooden house:
something's hiding in here @ luminhaus

I was digging the texture of these:

And as a special touch the owners had left little bits of natural art on display - acorns, seed pods, pine cones, flowers, etc found on the grounds of Luminhaus:

Another favorite piece. (I had a lot of favorites!) I want this - or I want to create a large-scale piece inspired by this. So simple, but makes such a big impact. Love the texture, too.

On the other side of the bedroom was this piece. The colors! The shapes! Amazing!

The pillows were works of art, too:

I even left a piece of my own art behind as a contribution to their collection. I don't know if the owners will dig it, or think WTF? and throw it away...but, hey, I think every kitchen needs a little more cheese!
I left Luminhaus feeling so inspired to try new things with my art, to loosen up, to go big, to get my hands in some paint and clay and make a mess!